Module 4

Entry #1:  Friend or Foe?

One night, when researching the topic of residential schools, I came upon this video and my husband and I watched it together.  It’s a long video – but it makes a compelling case for what occurred in residential schools and the tragedy, trauma and enduring suffering inflicted on those who were forced to attend and on their families.  It is obvious that this Reverend, Kevin Annett, did his homework and found valid evidence of the atrocities that have occurred.

Then the video takes an interesting turn…he attests that he was unfairly let go from his post with the United Church.  It certainly is an interesting chain of events…has he been banished by the Church and government or is he an extremist, a swindler and a “wanna-be”?   Is there a grand conspiracy to continue to hide the truth from us?


Entry #2:  In the Classroom

The following link is to a video prepared for Ontario Teachers.   First Nations elders, an Inuit elder and a Métis senator share their stories and by doing so invoke an urgency for teachers to integrate an understanding of Canadian history and the indigenous experiences into their curriculum.   Incorporating this history and knowledge will better engage indigenous learners and will foster an acceptance for what has occurred and the damage that has been done.

I am now far along on this journey, and can feel the necessity of incorporating this knowledge across curricula to pay homage to our indigenous people and their struggles with colonization.  It has been too long that we have ignored the tragedies of the residential schools, the separating of communities from their land, and the effects of marginalization, poverty and incarceration.

To be frank, I will take baby steps towards bringing this material into my classroom.  I want to tread carefully as I can appreciate the sensitivity of this material and the emotions that may be present.  But I will forage on and aim to do my part in abolishing racism and promoting understanding.


Entry #3:  Healing

This journey has taken me all over the web – I actually don’t know what I searched to get to this installment but it was a very interesting post.  Claire Carefoot is a visionary and a pioneer in her approach to help indigenous female prisoners at the Buffalo Sage Healing Centre.  The residents are on their final 6 months of their sentences, and are permitted to live in this centre which is housed in a secret residential Edmonton neighbourhood.   About the healing centre, Carefoot explains, “It’s a very in-depth program that gets into the guts of people, the pain they experienced as children, the alcoholism and the people who have been left behind.  The women for eight weeks sit with an elder and a program facilitator and work on their childhood trauma.  And for many of them, it’s a lot of trauma.”  They offer various other supports such as life skills coaching, parenting classes, and job skills training.

As I read through this post, I wondered if the needs of these prisoners mirror the needs of my learners.  They need much more than the content of our curriculum – they need to heal, to connect with their community, and to deal head on with the addictions and pain that they have.  They need the same supports as these women do – and yet we are trying to teach them content that must seem rather irrelevant to their immediate needs.


Entry #4:  Technology & Awareness

After reviewing Heather MacGregor’s dialogue as a “guest speaker” in our discussion forum, I became quite interested in the Legacy of Hope foundation and went to explore their website.  What I found there were some innovative, ground-breaking programs and approaches towards raising awareness and understanding.  In particular, I was struck by the campaign entitled “1000 conversations”.   The idea was to engage all Canadians in a dialogue about residential schools and the irreversible impact it has had on aboriginal people.   You could host a conversation anywhere – with any group of people (family, friends, coworkers, classrooms, etc.) and an information package & DVD was made available to the host.  Once completed, you were to register your “conversation” online here:   This program ran in 2009-2010.

Isn’t this a unique coupling of using technology to raise awareness in a non-threatening, enlightening way?   These kinds of initiatives can lead to self-reflection and transformation.

Another inventive way the Legacy of Hope assimilates technology and the promotion of their cause is with a hand-help app that downloads their exhibition, “Where are the Children?  Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools”.  This includes interactive, multimedia content that offers commentary, photos, narrative panels, and archived documents.

Very intriguing ways of using technology to raise awareness, foster understanding, and engage Canadians in the history of indigenous peoples.

Entry #5:  TEK & Spiritual Foundations

My last entry was found when considering “traditional ecological knowledge” or TEK.  This article cautions aboriginal scholars to protect TEK.  They are finding that western researchers are using this knowledge to advance their own agendas and taking it out of context from its spiritual origins.  At first, aboriginal people felt encouraged that the dominant culture was acknowledging and respecting the value of TEK, when in fact it is being inappropriately united with the ecological framework of western science.  Furthermore, cultural protocols are being violated.  Although aboriginal people are the holders of the knowledge, they, yet again, have no power over how it is being interpreted or used.

I have to question why aboriginal people aren’t invited to “sit at the decision-making table” rather than being subjected to research and studies about them.  We should be learning from them and respecting their worldview.  This article, unfortunately, paints a bleak picture about the future relations of aboriginal people and dominant society.  It advocates for resistance as a tool to preserve land, culture and tradition.


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.